NAIROBI, Kenya — It could go either way in Senegal.
There were protests against President Abdoulaye Wade's intention to run for a third term on Friday, Monday and Tuesday. The most recent saw thousands of anti-government protestors take to the streets against police armed with tear gas and batons.
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Reuters reports that at least one person died last night, run over by an armored police vehicle. Amnesty International reports that three have died.
These events have worried the UN and others. An opposition coalition called M23 has promised long-lasting mass action until Wade withdraws his candidacy for the February 26 election but it's hard to gauge how much support the protests really have and how broad it is spread. Dakar's Place de l'Obelisque is no Tahrir Square, yet.
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Mitigating against a popular revolution in Senegal is not any latent love for the octogenarian leader but the fact that elections are scheduled to take place in just a few weeks time on Feb. 26.
Yes, the incumbent can use state media and infinitely more (usually national) resources to ensure there is not a level playing field, and rigging the vote is that much easier for the ruler, but there is still the option of Wade's ouster coming at the ballot box.
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If, come election day, Wade claims a victory that is widely perceived as fraudulent then all bets will be off and Senegal's hard-won and long-standing stability will be in serious doubt.
Below is a video of the recent riots in Senegal: